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Social Purpose - The Beauty Brands Doing it in an Authentic Way
Blog / Brand Health & Beauty

Social Purpose - The Beauty Brands Doing it in an Authentic Way

In an industry where consumers are sceptical about brands & purpose, we take a look at some brands that are authentically standing out.
Social Purpose. It’s all marketers seem to talk and care about these days. But what do consumers think? Is it possible for brands to talk about and advertise social purpose, whilst retaining the trust and loyalty of their followers? Our recent Future Of Beauty Research discovered that 68% of consumers are uneasy about brands supporting ‘woke’ causes, and 26% even believed that a lot of brands are appearing inauthentic as a result of trying to support causes.

Reading those stats, you may not think it’s possible for Health & Beauty bands to talk about or support these issues. However, there are brands in the sector who have managed to strike the right balance and show this can be done in an authentic, genuine way that won’t turn off consumers.

Here, we’ve taken a look at 5 brands, big and small, who have done just that, ensuring their brand values and products are rooted in the causes and issues they support.


Dove launched their worldwide ‘Real Beauty’ campaign in 2004, which aimed to build self-confidence in women and young children by promoting the topic that beauty is made for everyone. They aimed to widen the definition of beauty and offer a broader, healthier and more democratic view; and that their support for body confidence could be seen to be something that the Dove team felt passionate about.

And, unlike some brands & causes which are picked up and then dropped just as quickly, Dove have continued the campaign - it hasn’t been a fashion or fad they ran with for a year before moving on.  

The ad campaign, which was based on consumer research, was intended to make more women feel beautiful everyday by celebrating diversity and challenging the stifling stereotypical views of beauty across the industry. Shockingly (but perhaps not surprisingly), Dove found that only 2% of women feel beautiful every day, and 25% described themselves as average. So, they started to use everyday women in their product ads and they leveraged digital media to air ads directly confronting beauty stereotypes and the impact it has on how women feel about themselves.

Under the banner of the Dove Self-Esteem project, they have supported countless charities globally that work with women to fight low self-esteem and build confidence.

Trinny London


Trinny Woodall, who launched Trinny London in 2017, never uses professional models for marketing campaigns. The faces that fill the direct-to-consumer brand’s social media feeds vary widely in skin texture and colour, with acne and wrinkles left unedited. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to see Trinny in her dressing gown and pjs, proudly displaying her acne scarring.

By prioritising realism over aspiration, Trinny London is appealing to women who feel under-represented in the beauty industry. “I wanted those women to feel there was somewhere where they felt their voice was heard,” says Woodall, who founded the brand when she was 53. “We were filling the gap for women who could see our campaigns were realistic. The models weren’t really touched up. It felt inclusive. So, whether I was 60 or 18, whether I had light skin or dark skin, I could see myself in that brand.” And it feels authentic because ‘being real’ is intrinsic to her brand. It was a natural, subtle approach and therefore felt real and inclusive – people can genuinely see themselves in the ads.

The brand’s social channels feature makeup tutorials with a diverse group of individuals, reflecting different skin types, ages, races and disabilities, as well as Trinny herself. Her honesty and genuineness is intrinsic to the brand and therefore what they promote, which in turn resonates strongly with her consumers.

And to make it even more realistic and personal, at the heart of the brand is an online try-on and product recommendation tool, Match2Me, that allows the customer to build their own colour profile. The innovative tool highlights the perfect shades for your unique combination of skin, hair and eye colour.

Boots No.7  - Colour Your Way & Ready For Anything Campaigns

In 2015, Boots makeup brand No7 launched their ‘Colour Your Way’ campaign, which consisted of a variety of product-centred ads featuring different women.

At the heart of this campaign was the idea that every women will need their own make up colour palette to work best with her skin, hair and eyes. Diversity was thus anchored in the product benefit itself rather than making it a political cause. It subtly showed that Boots has products for all types of women, and that they aim to portray that they understand the different skin health concerns that diverse audiences have. With a campaign featuring real women, not glamourous models, the campaign reflected what today’s health & beauty consumers want to see in their advertising, whilst building on the insight that 56% of the UK population with non-white skin tones do not feel represented by the skincare industry.

No7 also took on the causes of mental wellbeing and consumers’ own self-esteem and perception of themselves with their ‘Ready For More/Ready For Anything’ campaign.  Featuring the likes of ballet dancer Allessandra Ferri and Olympic fencer Monica Aksamit. , this age-defying campaign championed not how we look, but the importance of how we feel. No7 believed that beauty is about much more than looking pretty, and that when a woman feels in control of her own beauty she has the energy and confidence to go out and do anything.



Skincare brand BY SARAH LONDON, was first developed by Sarah Murrell to repair her sister Lauren’s skin when she was recovering from leukaemia. After a life-saving stem cell transplant from Sarah, the sisters teamed up to launch the brand with the purpose of transforming emotional wellbeing for stressed skin through organic, high-quality plant oil formulas.

Co-founder Lauren Murrell, has always been very transparent with the brand’s followers about her health and what she experienced, and in doing so, it has helped their community feel safe to share their stories and therefore authentically connect with the brand. The sisters understand the physical and emotional impact of sensitive, stressed skin, and so their brand purpose really is their social purpose. The two are so intertwined, there isn’t one without the other. It’s real, genuine and truly authentic. Through their founding story, they have leaned into a sense of empowerment with skincare for their consumers, which is not about reaching perfection, but getting back to feeling like you again.

BY SARAH LONDON are really close to their community and they continue to engage and connect with them, which reinforces how important it is to take the time to ask your consumers questions and listen to their responses, and through doing this, you can achieve authentic social purpose. If your community can resonate with your brand story, they are more likely to show their trust and loyalty.

“We know crystal clear why we’re here, who we serve, and why we’re doing what we’re doing. And I think that clarity of purpose helps not just to refine our growth vision for the brand, but also our marketing and communications” Lauren stated during the expert panel discussion at our recent Future Of Beauty event.


First rolling out in North America, across their biggest brands such as Regenerist, Olay has introduced packaging for people with visual or dexterity impairments. The innovative ‘Easy Open’ lid is designed with four features: a winged cap, extra grip-raised lid, a high-contrast product label and braille text, to ensure their products are inclusive and to make beauty more accessible for the 15% of consumers who live with disabilities today.

As part of its ongoing mission to create a more inclusive beauty industry, Olay made a conscious decision not to patent the lid, so that the design can be used by the wider beauty industry, ensuring that those with disabilities are offered more accessible packaging.

This is a great move in the right direction, and by choosing not to patent the technology, Olay have made a decision that is not for monetary gain, but for the greater good of their consumers, supporting a genuine cause and need. Our recent Future Of Beauty survey also revealed that disabled people were the most under represented group in health and beauty advertising, so this further reiterates that there are opportunities for both product innovation as well as improved representation within ads for this group.
With accusations of ‘woke’ and ‘green’ washing, authentic social purpose has become something that health and beauty consumers are losing confidence in. However, there are still brands out there that are taking an authentic stand, and proving that social purpose doesn’t have to come at the expense of consumer trust. When brand and social purpose are genuinely and authentically interlinked, Health and Beauty brands can ensure that their consumers won’t see straight through their efforts, but will support them.

Posted 26 April 2022 by Liv Povey